Yodogawa Christian Hospital in Osaka, Japan, has given the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) $208,577 to be used for mission in Asia.

The gift represents the same amount Presbyterian Women contributed in 1956 to the hospital, founded by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) missionaries. The PW gift, which was raised through the organization’s Birthday Offering, helped build a 76-bed hospital that has grown into a multi-faceted medical complex.

The Presbyterian medical ministry in Osaka began in 1955, when missionaries opened the Yodogawa Christian Clinic. The first superintendent, Dr. Frank Brown, committed Yodogawa to providing “whole person healing” in an impoverished community still reeling from World War II. Brown retired in the late 1970s, but Yodogawa’s dedication to a visible Christian witness has continued under Japanese leadership. Only about two percent of the Japanese population is Christian.

“It’s a story that began in Osaka, Japan, after the second World War, and it’s a story that continues in Osaka, where Yodogawa is one of the primary medical facilities in a city that is second in population (in Japan) only to Tokyo,” David Hudson, the PC(USA)’s coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, told members of the General Assembly Mission Council Sept. 24.

He said that the hospital had been rated as one of the top private hospitals in Japan. Now a complex with eight facilities — three hospitals, two clinics, two geriatric care facilities and a health promotion center — Yodogawa has 657 beds and staff of 1,000.

Yodogawa’s achievements include:

  • Performing Japan’s first blood transfusions for RH incompatibility in 1957.
  • Hiring Japan’s first medical social worker in 1962.
  • Starting Japan’s first program of special care for terminally ill patients and their families in 1973 and opening one of the nation’s first hospice units in 1984.
  • Successfully separating Siamese twins in 1975, which was only the second time the procedure was performed in Japan and the 16th time in the world.
  • Establishing an elderly care unit in 1998 to serve Japan’s growing number of seniors.

Carol Adcock, chairwoman of the GAMC, said that there are buildings around the world with cornerstones noting the contributions of Presbyterian Women.

“The gifts that have been given in the past certainly have multiplied and will continue to do so,” she said. “We are grateful.”

Speaking of the Yodogawa gift to the PC(USA), Dr. Masaaki Mukubo, Yodogawa’s superintendent, said, “YCH was once a recipient of God’s love from PC(USA), and it is our mission now to pass it on to other Asian countries that are in need.”

Over the years Yodogawa has made several large mission gifts to the PC(USA). It has also provided direct aid to hospitals in Bangladesh, Nepal and China.

Mukubo outlined Yodogawa’s plans to build a new facility near the site of the current hospital. He showed architectural drawings for a large, ornate chapel that will be located at the center of the complex, symbolizing the hospital’s commitment to its Christian roots and whole-person healing. Each day at Yodogawa begins with chapel services.

“Since the beginning, morning chapel services have been a key part of Yodogawa Christian Hospital’s spiritual emphasis to maintain and develop the concept of whole person healing in Christ,” Mukubo said.

He said the $250 million project has drawn strong support from the Osaka city council and the surrounding community. When word spread that Yodogawa was planning to build a new facility, more than 55,000 local residents signed a petition asking that it be kept in the area. The Osaka government helped the hospital secure property just a few hundred yards from its current site.

The projected completion date is September 2012.

The GAMC gave its approval to the new hospital. For several years a board consisting of YCH leadership and four PC(USA) mission personnel has provided governance, but the nature of the relationship between the hospital and the PC(USA) requires concurrence by the GAMC on major hospital expansions.

Bill Lancaster contributed to this report.